FSF–Red/White Table Runner

Ta-Done!

Gathered here are:

a block from Sue (Canada)
a block from Kay (Australia)
a block from Leisa (California)
a block from Sarah (California)
a block from Rhonda (Virginia)
a block from Lisa (California)
and a block from me, all combined to make a table runner that will remind me of these lovely quilting friends.  For even if I didn’t know them at the beginning, I’ve made some new friends by the end.  Thank you, one and all.

I stippled it with invisible thread on top, and red rayon thread on the back.

Because I might want to turn it over and use the reverse on occasion, I hand wrote my initials and the date.  But I have this blog to remember everyone by–now to take it to Temecula and enter it in their Red/White Challenge.

FSF–Oddities and Endities

Okay, gettin’ creative here at 9:37 at night.  Does it count for a Friday finish, if you finish it at the end of a Friday?

Hope so.

What I finished today: Grading 23 MLA (Modern Language Association) tests for class (no photo–you can imagine this one)

Cutting out the pieces for the Rubrik’s Cube quilt

Correcting the color and sending to print about 230 photos for my quilt journal project

Now can I call it a night?  I’d be tempted to but my dashboard widget says it’s still 91 degrees out there and when I opened the door to check, I smelled smoke–fire’s in the air.  Ah, end of summer, Southern California-style: Heat and Fires.

But look what an East Coast friend sent to me, that made me do a happy dance at the mailbox: some Going Coastal fat quarters.  Their coast has certainly been active this week, what with an earthquake and an impending hurricane.  But even with all that, my friend sent a smile all the way across the USA.  Thanks!

Southern Brights–FSF

This is my son Matthew and his wife, Kim.  Sometimes she likes to be called Kimberly.  Other times it’s just Kim.  She’s a bright and sunny personality of a gal, and easily matches my son in energy, determination and love of a good joke.  They’re great.

This is their family, taken at a family camping trip (quickly! and that’s why Emilee has no shoes on), in the mountains above Phoenix Arizona, a place they call their home.  But only for another day or so, because he’s been promoted in his corporate job and they’re off to Cinncinati Ohio.  I love that she would follow him anywhere, so I decided to make her a quilt to honor her love of the Southwest and her bright and sunny personality.

Ta Da!  I give you “Southern Brights.”  It’s a Bento Box block, with lots of wild and crazy fabrics, put together in a bundle by Fabricworm, but of course, I added a few of my own.

My favorite is the little Round Robin fabric with little round robins on it.  I also like the punched-up hugeness of those flowers in the middle.  Change in scale?  This quilt’s got it.  Change in color?  Yep, yep.  Change in value?  Not so much (all medium fabrics) so I threw in some lights and brights to keep the eye moving.

Love the Marimekko fabric on the back, punctuated by a strip of the the Anne Kelle flowers.  Alas, our Crate and Barrel outlet has closed, so now if I want those fabrics, I need to travel an hour and half–instead the previous half-hour.  So I hoard my stash of these, but this quilt just called out for something sunny and bright.

I wish them all success in their new home and new state!

All Is Safely Gathered In–FSF

Okay, before the large picture of the quilt, get a load of this quote:

“Of all cursed places under the sun, where the hungriest soul can hardly pick up a few grains of knowledge, a girls boarding-school is the worst. They are called finishing schools, and the name tells accurately what they are. They finish everything but imbecility and weakness, and that they cultivate. They are nicely adapted machines for experimenting on the question, ”Into how little space a human being can be crushed?” I have seen some souls so compressed that they would have fitted into a small thimble, and found room to move there.” –Olive Shreiner

Hmmm.  By focusing on finishing, am I crushing myself into a small space?  Am I creating a Tyranny of the Done?  That’s the danger in shifting words around in a language as fluid as English is.  I use that term–Finishing School– in an affectionate way, Olive Shreiner’s words notwithstanding.

When I was a young mother I moaned to MY mother about how I never got anything done.  The laundry always piled up;  sometimes as quickly I as I could move it from the dryer, fold it and put it in the drawers, it would be used, dirtied and find its way back to the blue plastic mesh basket in front of the washer.  Meals were a never-ending story and I resorted to “closing the kitchen” just so I could get the breakfast dishes washed and put away before it was time to haul out the peanut butter and jelly for lunch.  The bathrooms always needed to be cleaned, the floor rarely seemed to be free of crumbs or sticky places.  And those sticky places migrated from floor to doorknobs, to car handles, to walls.  If I could have strapped on the 409 in a giant backpack, squirting and wiping as I went I MIGHT have conquered the dirt.  Just maybe.  I began quilting because I wanted a “bedspread” (what we called it then) for my bed, however I soon saw the advantage of quilting: it stayed done.  I didn’t have to resew a seam as it didn’t unpick itself in the night.  The patches would still be there, done, when I was ready to assemble them into a quilt.  And then somewhere this stitching and patching and quilting took a turn and became my art, my way of expressing creativity.

I think I moaned to mother for years and years. Then the children grew up, the bathrooms needed cleaning only once a week, then the children left.  Dishes rarely pile up and sticky places don’t spring up like mushrooms overnight.  The dust and dirt of housework and I have made our peace with each other, leaving lots of room around my job as am adjunct college professor (English) to happily spend time cutting and sewing and creating quilts.

But there’s this healthy strain of ADHD in my family, and I can easily flit from pile of fabric to pile of fabric.  My intention was to take stock each Friday, slow down and commend myself on whatever I had accomplished in order to notice my work, to smile and be aware that I completed that which I set out to do.  To reap a little harvest from the sowing (sewing, too) that I had done earlier.

So, today, here is All Is Safely Gathered In, a quilt about sowing and harvesting.  I began this three years ago, trying to work with an original block I’d drafted–simple in design but it carried a nice big punch with those new large-scale prints that we were all investigating.  How to make them work?  Place them right up against each other in nice big squares and shapes–let that fabric shine. When I was casting about for a name, I talked it over with my husband.  How about something about harvest? he asked, and the phrase from a favorite hymn jumped right out at me.  When I was that young overwhelmed mother, I could think of nothing more satisfying than walking around the house at night, the last child in bed, the open book fallen to the floor, the night-light casting its golden glow on the cheeks and hair of these children who kept me so busy during the day.  I fell in love with them all over again, storing up these feelings of satisfaction every night against the onslaught of the day.  And now, many many years later those children walk their houses at night, picking up the books, bending over to plant a kiss on their children’s soft cheeks.

I sowed children and stitches and tasks uncompleted and time and more time and I am now reaping grandchildren and quilts and houses that don’t get quite as dirty.  While I’m not done, I feel like I have some sense of the law of the harvest.  And it is immensely satisfying, I must say.

I was drawn to not only the Kaffe Fassett fabrics (rich in coloration and detail) but also those of designer Martha Negley and Phillip Jacobs (who designed that border).  I loved making this quilt, but it did take me three and a half years from inception to this stage–awaiting its label on the back.

I’m actually doing two labels–this one and the dotty quilt label.  Hopefully that one will be next FSF–in the best sense of the term.

But few have spoken of the actual pleasure derived from giving to someone, from creating something, from finishing a task, from offering unexpected help almost invisibly and anonymously.” –Paul Wiener

Happy Sowing.  Happy Finishing School Friday.

FSF–Quilts Galore

Finishing School Friday, and I’m beat!

This week I finished the quilting on the Still-To-Be-Named Quilt (I have some ideas, though), put the binding on that one in a straight bind, not a running mitered bind, added the binding to another quilt (which I’ll stitch tonight at our Quilt Night Group), and helped my friend Judy piece together quilts for her two granddaughters’ beds.  We’ve been stitiching for TWO days–like a mini-retreat!  No wonder I’m tired!  Enjoy the slideshow.

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FSF–Red/White Blocks, plus a few thoughts

You know how it is at the beginning of summer?  It’s like I face an unmarked calendar, and I make plans galore.  I want to sew this, design that, finish this, quilt that, and of course, maybe go to the beach, or read some books.  It’s like we make a list and start chipping away at it, applying the habits of type-A personalities to our unfettered summer.  I ran at the beginning of summer, so happy to be free of grading and lesson plans and student emails and admin requests.  I ran headlong into the quilting, cutting and sewing, and photographing–and yes, of course–blogging.  It was like falling backward into a cool pool on a hot hot day in July.

But now that it is July, the ol’ Get-It-Done engine has a few sputters.  The “free” time left to me is winnowing down, and soon I’ll have to return to teachery-responsibilites.  So, this makes my mind concentrate more on what I really want to have done by the time I head to my Orientation, and what can be left to sandwich in between teaching obligations all semester long.

I was hoping to have this quilt all done for FSF, but no–still quilting along.  I did get a quilt back from the quilter, but it’s going to be gifted, so no peeks yet.

But I can point to finishing the Red and White blocks in my little swap.  On the left is the block made up in Bella Solid Country Red and Kona Snow.  On the right the block is made in Kona’s Chinese Red (and Kona Snow).  While the Chinese Red is more brick-colored than the Country Red, when made up, you can only discern the smallest difference between them.

I use a quilting book to help me lay out the blocks, since they have a lot of pieces.  I made it from cloth, foam-core art boards, flannel and butcher paper.  I cut those into long oblongs (two-page size length and one-page size width; my pages are about 14″ square), layering the flannel with the butcher paper.

Stitch down the middle.  Create a pillowcase-type shape a little larger than your pages, and insert one foam-core art board cut to size in the bottom.  Stitch along the edge, then stitch about an inch away again, then insert the second board.  Whipstitch closed. Layer everything and stitch down through the middle to secure the pages.   Of course, I did it a much harder way–cutting all the pages individually, then enclosing them in the binding, but it was the first time, and I was finding my way through this.  I also have ribbons on it, so I can tie this up and transport it, which I have done to quilt classes, etc.  I’ve seen the use of foam-core art boards, stacked up in use at home, but I like this design because it is less bulky.

Here are the blocks, all loaded up.  I carry this to the sewing machine and just work from a single page.

I sew the small parts together, then into rows, then press.  I stitch rows together, then press, then true-them up, hoping not to cut off too many corners!

Whoops.

Sometimes unpicking is involved in quilting.

Here they all are, so far.

The book I listened to while stitching was Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Pulitzer Prize winners.  More on this in the next post.